Week 2: Full Steam Ahead

I have now spent a full work week at my internship site., which was a good week at work. The first half of the week I spent the afternoons in the veld with the eland and a monitor, getting to know the project and understanding the importance of the monitors works. In the mornings I was working on getting a program called Timelapse2 set up to use for photo tagging. The nature reserve has had camera traps set up for the last two years spread out through control and experimental areas. They have divided up data collection on the camera traps into sessions. The first two sessions of photos (which for anyone who has used camera traps knows this means thousands upon thousands of photos) were entered using an excel sheet and simply going through the photos on a photo viewer. Each photo had to have its image file name and corresponding data entered manually. This is effective but extremely time consuming. So this is one of my main projects. I am working on the third session of photos collected which is several months worth. My first task was reading a 100 page long manual on how to set up the photo tagging software, create a template for the data collection, and then play around with it to figure out if I set it up right.

After I got Timelapse2 all set up I spent the second half of the week going through photos. Over the next couple of days I went through over 15,000 photos, which was only one months worth of photos. If I am correct this session has files from December 2017 to April 2018. So that means I still have 4 months worth of photos to tag. And if I am efficient at this session and time permits I will go through the previous two sessions’ photos so that all the data can be in the same format. Even though staring at a screen for 8 hours can take its toll on the eyes, it is fun to see all the wildlife that is out there. I have seen the eland and so many other species these last couple days. There are so many different types of birds, I have seen water and small grey mongoose, common genet, grysbok, hippo (the only reserve in the Cape Town region with hippo), my personal favorite the caracal, and my least favorite the boomslang. Boomslang are a venomous snake that tend to spend their time in trees and it’s not that I do not like them, I just prefer them on the computer screen and hope not to run into one out in the field. I also got to join in on a walkabout through the veld with city managers and other project members as they discussed what they were hoping to get out of the project and to talk about its future. This gave me a very interesting insight into how this project works and how it can stay viable for years to come. This was my work week, lots of new and exciting things.

I also had a busy week for the touristy stuff. Monday nights are a culture series put on by VAC. This Monday was an introduction to South Africa. Then on Thursday I went out with a big group of the other interns to the local neighborhood bar. Friday was our weekly activity put on by VAC, our “vactivity”. We went on a short hike to Elephants Eye Cave. It gave breathtaking views of Muizenberg beach and the cape flats area. Check out Instagram for photos. Saturday I went to Old Biscuit Mill, which is a local neighborhood market with lots of trinket shops and tons of good food. In the afternoon I went to the V&A waterfront and walk around the boardwalk area. Then spent three hours walking around the biggest mall I think I have been in, all in an effort to buy a second towel and an external hard drive. And the pièce de résistance was Sunday’s trip to Muizenberg beach, where it was about 80 degrees and sunny, followed by a braai with some other VAC interns at my house.

This was a fun and exciting week and I can’t wait to see what else South Africa has in store for me.

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